Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vermette Creating Flexibility in the Top 6

With the recent play of the Columbus top line, a thought of "don't fix what isn't broken" immediately floods the brain.  Thanks to the injury to Derick Brassard, the tinkering was unavoidable as we watched Antoine Vermette return to the top line, a position he has managed well for the Blue Jackets in years previous.

What surprised me, was the rather seamless transition that occurred as the top line continues to roll, scoring key goals against difficult matchups over the last two games.  In fact, what it makes me wonder, is whether this opens the door for Scott Arniel to generate a two line powerhouse once Brassard returns from injury without forcing the young center back to both top line matchups, or top line minutes.

What excites me about the possibility of dropping Brassard, is the opportunity to give Umberger a fast paced, pass first center who can force the play towards the net.  While Vermette has been solid on the second line, it is my personal opinion that he stands to gain more both on the ice and on the scoresheet by playing with Nash on line one, all the while providing the top line with arguably the teams most capable faceoff winner.

Extending on the potential second line, an injury to the generally mediocre, lazy Huselius opens the door for Arniel to get creative and bring in a guy like Calvert, who has shown remarkable poise and speed for a rookie just learning the NHL game.  By introducing two elements of speed to the second line, it will undoubtedly force opposing teams to get creative with their matchups, and if they are successful, lightening the rather substantial load that is commonly thrust upon the first line.

It could certainly be argued that I am getting ahead of myself a little bit with Brassard still injured, and the team potentially adding bodies before the deadline next week, but it is an exciting possibility to generate speed and a legitimate scoring threat from a secondary line in Columbus.  It reminds me exactly how far along the team has come since the days of bad press complaining about a lack of a supporting cast for Nash.

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